How Blood Donors Saved My Life
by Erin Green, blood recipient
October 17, 2013 did not go as anyone had pictured it. It started as a day filled with anticipation and excitement as I was admitted to the labor and delivery floor to have our first child – a baby girl we named Georgia. It was the day after my due date, so she was actually quite punctual. After a pretty easy labor and a smooth delivery of our 8 pound, 8 ounce healthy baby girl, I began feeling ill. The medical staff equated it with a drop in my blood pressure and tilted my bed back to make me feel better, which worked initially. I had lost more blood than normal during the delivery, and it still seemed like there was something wrong. My doctor told me that I was continuing to bleed and she couldn’t see where it was coming from, so we needed to go to the operating room (OR) to get a better look.
I ended up developing a very rare condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) that kept my blood from clotting normally. DIC has a high mortality rate and is difficult to control. I lost over three liters of my own blood and was in the OR for more than 3 intense hours while numerous physicians, CRNAs, nurses and technicians worked to stop my bleeding. I received 12 units of blood, 6 units of fresh frozen plasma, and 2 units of platelets before I finally became stable and the bleeding was controlled. What had started as a happy, exciting day had ended in a roller coaster of emotions as my family waited to hear good news about my condition. The next morning I woke up intubated in the critical care unit where I stayed for two days before being able to move back to the labor and delivery floor with my husband and new baby girl. We stayed a total of 5 days in the hospital before we finally brought our little girl home with grateful hearts for the miracle that took place in our lives.
A few weeks after going home from the hospital I had the opportunity, along with my husband Todd and our daughter, to meet some employees from the Arkansas Blood Institute. I was able to thank them and to let them see, first hand, the benefits and changed lives that resulted from the work that they do every day. It was a humbling experience to say the least.
Unfortunately, I have to say that I’ve never donated blood in the past; however, the Arkansas Blood Institute has gained a lifelong blood donor after my experience. If it wasn’t for blood, plasma, and platelet donors, the skilled medical staff wouldn’t have had the resources they needed to save my life and my Georgia would’ve grown up without her mother. I cannot express the extent to which blood donors have affected our family’s life. They kept our world from falling apart that day. Without them, I wouldn’t be enjoying the blessing of becoming a mother to a healthy, happy little girl. Donating blood is such an easy way that each one of us can give back and change the lives of not only recipients but their loved ones as well. My daughter gets to know her mommy in part because a dozen people decided to donate blood.
We would like to thank Erin for using “Share Your Story” to tell us her story.
All In: Donor Gives Blood and Estate
by Gary Lynch, director of Development & Sustainability
“I’m a platelet donor, but I don’t feel at ease without a knife or fork,” quipped James Hellams, OKC. His enthusiasm for our life-saving mission has driven him to give 71 gallons (and counting). That’s about 568 times in a donor chair. That’s plenty of time to become renowned as the ‘class clown’ of the central OKC donor center! Now, James is taking his commitment even further. He has designated Oklahoma Blood Institute as the sole beneficiary of his estate.
James has no immediate family, yet wants to be sure he leaves a legacy with the sizeable estate he has been fortunate enough to accumulate. James’ faith has profoundly influenced his belief in the sanctity of life, and leaving his entire estate to Oklahoma Blood Institute manifests that belief.
Our Legacy Society honors financial contributors who include Oklahoma Blood Institute in their estate plans. James will be listed among these generous contributors. Learn about the various ways you can support our life-saving mission.
David Ash Story
Erin Green Story
Joshua Garoutte Story
Trace McWhirt Story
200 donations and counting
Ken Malone began donating blood as a freshman at the University of Arkansas in 1969. In the mid-nineties, he became a platelet donor. In January 2005, he moved to Oklahoma and began donating with Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) at the Tulsa Donor Center where he has averaged twenty-two platelet donations a year. Both of Ken’s parents, his mother-in-law, and two of his grandparents passed away of cancer, so he is acutely aware of the importance of platelets in the treatment of cancer. On March 5, 2014, Ken made his 200th donation.
Ken is Senior Manager of Telecommunications at AVIS Budget Car Rental Contact Center. Although he is not able to donate at his company’s blood drives, he encourages his fellow employees to donate blood.
Some years ago Ken was going on a cruise. Before scheduling his cruise, he asked an OBI employee about places he could or could not go ashore as he did not want to risk deferral.
We would like to thank Ken for his dedication to saving lives through platelet donation.
Click here to schedule your life-saving donation.
New Mother Saved, Thanks to Donors
By Sunshine Wingfield, Community Relations Intern
Bryan and Katy Roybal could not have been more excited as the couple welcomed its first child into the world: a precious baby girl named Jane. But only a short time after delivery, Bryan noticed his wife seemed pale and shaky.
Bryan says it quickly went from being the best day of his life to the worst as he watched Katy fight for her life. Doctors discovered Katy was hemorrhaging, and she was immediately rushed to surgery. The procedure did not effectively stop the bleeding, and Katy hemorrhaged a second time. She then underwent an emergency hysterectomy. In total, she needed 22 units of blood plus platelets.
“I shudder to think about what would have happened if there hadn’t been blood available,” Katy said. “Without those who donated, my daughter would not have her mother, and my husband would be raising Jane alone.”
Having almost lost his wife in 2011, Bryan was inspired to become a blood donor. “I plan on giving regularly now,” he said.
“We are grateful to all the people who gave blood and saved my life,” said Katy. “They have given our family a second chance.”
Thank You for Keeping Me Alive!
Driving down the highway on August 11, 2011, I could have never imagined what lie ahead. During a sudden downpour, my car hydroplaned off the road and into a concrete culvert.
Not only was the passenger side completely crushed, but the transmission was cut in half and the steering wheel was bent. Witnesses didn’t think I was going to make it. I was rushed to Muskogee Regional Medical Center but then transferred on to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa two days later.
Among other brutal injuries to my pelvis, vertebrae, and eye, I also tore the main ligament in my neck that supplies all of the blood to the spinal cord.
I received two plasma transfusions after losing copious amounts of blood.
After reaching a point of stability, I was released on August 29, 2011. But the long road to recovery was only beginning. I was sent home with a tracheotomy and was in a wheelchair, but started physical therapy a couple weeks later and had surgery to get the screw taken out of my pelvis.
Now, I still have short-term memory loss, major headaches and neck pain. But because of those who donated blood, I am still alive.
I attend Northeastern State University in Tahlequah every month for traumatic brain injury therapy to regain my memory and learn to multitask.
In April 2013, I became a blood donor and started giving back. I just want to thank everyone who is and has donated blood to save people’s lives like mine. Every donation truly makes a difference. God bless you all!
Pictured above, Haley in front of the culvert where she crashed.
We would like to thank Haley for using “Share Your Story” to tell us her story.
Little Survivor Gives Thanks
Last December, Isabelle Ratcliff was just returning home for the holidays. The eight-year-old, Tuttle girl had spent months in the hospital battling leukemia. But as her strength began to return earlier this year, she and her mother took a very important outing. The two visited an Oklahoma City donor center to give thanks to donors giving blood. Isabelle wore her special shirt proclaiming, “I’m ALIVE Thanks To A Blood Donor.”
“Seeing the donors brought back memories for Isabelle,” said Rebekah Ratcliff, mom.
In the summer of 2011, Isabelle ran a high fever that wouldn’t break. She was sent to the Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center. Before she could undergo tests, she had to be given two units of blood and a unit of platelets. Tests revealed Isabelle had leukemia.
While spending five months in the hospital, Isabelle received numerous blood transfusions, and today she is cancer free. She and her family realize the value of blood donation, and hope that by showing their appreciation in person, they can be an encouragement to donors.
When asked to explain what happens with donated blood, Isabelle remarked, “They send it to the hospital, and give it to kids who need it.” And though the process is a bit more complex than what she described, Isabelle definitely understands and is grateful for the life-saving gift of blood this holiday season.